Lionsgate has become the first film studio to launch a film to rent on Facebook on the same day it is released for sale on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Facebook users in the US can rent Abduction, which is also available for digital download, for $3.99 for 48 hours.
It is the latest example of movie studios seeking to find new methods of giving viewers access to their content – last year Universal toyed with the idea of launching movies for rent at the same time as releasing them in cinemas, and there has recently been a spate of exclusive deals signed with Netflix and LoveFilm to stream new releases online.
Lionsgate’s Facebook release includes an exclusive interview with the film’s star, Taylor Lautner, and a quiz that can be completed while watching the film.
Also, during key scenes, pop-up boxes will appear on the screen with a quote from the scene, or a 20-second clip of it, and give users an option to write a note and post it on Facebook. If a friend watches the movie later, they will see that comment at the bottom of the screen during that same point in the film.
But more importantly for the studio, a Faceook release also allows Lionsgate to collect data from users watching its film and then use that data to market future releases.
The Abduction release is not the first time that movie studios have offered films for rent through Facebook – Warner Bros made several titles available last year, including The Dark Knight, Harry Potter and Inception, and several other studios are also trialling the service.
Offering films through Facebook throws up the possibility of adding new revenue streams through social viewing and apps.
Netflix, which launched last week in the UK, already has a Facebook app that allows users to publish what they are watching in their news feed.
As reported last week in a post about BSkyB’s deal with TV startup Zeebox, film studios could build apps that allow viewers to discuss what they are watching with their friends and even purchase products and services being shown on-screen.
Viewers can also ‘like’ products being shown in the film, so companies can then market to them in future using Facebook’s news feed ads.
As product placement in films becomes more common, this could open up lucrative new revenue streams both for film studios and Facebook.